Next spring, Colorado kayakers, rafters and suppers will have a great new playpark to surf when the town of Eagle completes the second phase of its heralded Eagle River Park.
With the first phase finished last spring, which built features three and four on the downstream portion of the park, this fall and winter’s construction will complete in-stream features one and two, as well as such bankside improvements as an amphitheater, pathway, park and more.
“It’s going to be an amazing park,” says Scott Shipley of whitewater park design and engineering firm, S2O Design, based out of Lyons, Colo. “It’s our first project using our adjustable Rapid Bloc technology in an instream park. It will let us easily fine-tune the features however we need to, which will be great.”
The whitewater park will feature four new waves, as well as eddies and chutes that are fun to tube and float during low water times, but that will gain in size and power as the flows increase. At higher flows it will feature waves for kayakers and suppers to surf. The features and park area will also be ideal for competitions and festivals, perhaps even alluring enough for the nearby GoPro Games in Vail to consider hosting an event or two there.
“It’s a great site selection that matches the river’s natural morphology and takes advantage of the existing river channel well,” says Shipley, a five-time world cup slalom kayak champion. “It also creates a great gateway to Eagle. People driving by used to look at an old truck stop here; now they get to see a great river park.”
Funded by the town of Eagle (in 2016 voters approved a 0.5% sales tax to fund a variety of park and trail improvements including this project), various matching grants and even local brewery Bonfire Brewing (whose sponsorship secures the naming rights for the eastern firepit that serves as a central hub for the park), the project is nestled along the Eagle River near the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo Grounds, and Chambers Park, where once a dirt lot, fencing, and semi-trucks served as the gateway to the community. The Park is a central part of the Eagle River Corridor Plan established in 2015.
“The Eagle River Park has been on the wishlist of boaters and residents for decades,” says Town of Eagle Trustee Matt Solomon. “This amenity will truly connect the soul of the river to the heart of our valley.”
Adds Bonfire Brewing owner Andy Jessen, who’s also on Eagle’s Board of Trustees: “Watching this park come to fruition as a trustee, citizen, and business owner has been perhaps the most gratifying experience I can recall during my ten years here. There was never a question of if we would directly support making it a reality—just when, and how.”
The park’s first two features, which are designed for intermediate to advanced paddlers, also have a bypass channel aligned next to them that will allow boaters and tubers to bypass these first two features to the left. The bypass channel provides a calm route around the largest of the four features and also creates a pathway back upstream for fish migration.